Photo by Bennett Lacy
A plan by two county supervisors might pave the way for people to start selling food from their home kitchens.
County Supervisors Joel Anderson and Nora Vargas are hoping to make it possible for MEHKOs to operate in San Diego County.
Listen to this story by Alexandra Rangel
MEHKOs, also known as “microenterprise home kitchen operation” , allows people to sell food right from their kitchen at their private house.
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The business food concept was made possible in the state through the passing of AB 626 and AB 377 in 2018. Permits and licensing to operate are granted on a county-by-county basis.
Seven counties have authorized MEHKOs, and according to Anderson, many have had success.
“Other counties have done different things, Riverside, San Bernardino. They are slightly different, but they have had tremendous success with it,” he said.
Anderson said these home-based food businesses would be regulated through local food agencies. Health permits and a business license would also be required.
“At the end of the day we’re taking people that would normally operate in the gray. We’re giving them a path to operate legally and lift their community,” he said.
Cook Alliance estimates 50,000 to 100,000 home cooks currently sell food illegally from their home kitchen.
The amount of food MEHKOs can sell is limited compared to restaurants.
“There are severe caps on this. You can only do 60 meals a week so we’re not talking about competing with your local restaurant,” Anderson said.
He said MEHKOs is a stepping stone for those looking to maybe one day open a restaurant or for people looking to make extra cash.
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Diana Tapiz is the owner and chef of Tres Fuegos Cocina.
Tapiz and her husband started selling birria at pop up events during the pandemic. As demand for their food grew, they decided to rent a commercial kitchen.
But the dream quickly came to an end.
“It’s a journey that we were ready to give up on, it’s hard to get those start-up costs,” said Tapiz.
Tapiz said getting a MEHKOs business license means being able to continue her family’s legacy.
“My mothers dream was to work in the food industry and open her own small food business, but she unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to do so before she passed two years ago,” Tapiz said.
Anderson and Vargas will be introducing MEHKOs to the board of supervisors at its next meeting.
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